Film Review: Masterminds (1997)

Also known as: Smart Alec (working title), Trouble Border (Japan – English title)
Release Date: August 22nd, 1997
Directed by: Roger Christian
Written by: Floyd Byars, Alex Siskin, Chris Black
Music by: Anthony Marinelli
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Vincent Kartheiser, Brenda Fricker, Brad Whitford, Matt Craven, Annabelle Gurwitch

Pacific Motion Pictures, Dunlevy Pictures, Columbia Pictures, 106 Minutes

Review:

“Enjoy the show, Maloney.” – Ozzie

Man, oh, man… this movie started out really bad. However, I was really enjoying it by the third act and as goofy and stupid as it was, some of the performances were entertaining as hell, even if they were extremely over the top.

You really have to suspend disbelief with this movie, as thinking too hardly about plot details makes the whole thing fall apart.

Granted, it’s hard to dismiss some of the stuff that’s so blatantly stupid like a private school getting a multi-million dollar, high tech security package just to stop one troublemaking, prankster, hacker teen.

And don’t get me started on the actual hacking in the movie because like Hackers and Weird Science, the filmmakers, here, think that online security resembles some sort of adventure video game. But hey, I get it, we need exciting visuals and real hacking isn’t exciting to look at for the regular Joe.

The plot is basically “Die Hard in a private school” or more correctly, a ripoff of 1991’s Toy Soldiers but with only one teenage hero fighting terrorists. And I guess they’re not terrorists, as much as they are just Patrick Stewart and a gang of militarized thugs trying to extort the school’s president for money by holding the kids hostage.

As the plot rolls on, the kid fights back, using secret passageways and tricks to outwit the dimwitted militarized force. Eventually, he has his showdown with Patrick Stewart and we’re treated to an armored golf cart race through the catacombs under the school and nearby city.

Overall, the finale was pretty decent, even if the golf carts moved too slowly and the whole thing dragged on for too long.

Masterminds is a forgettable film, mainly because it recycled a formula that people had seen a few dozen times before it came out. But Stewart is enjoyable, as always, and it was weird seeing Pete Campbell from Mad Men play a skateboarding, douchey, hacker teen from the edgy boi ’90s. 

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: Toy Soldiers and other Die Hard clones.